Humanity is struggling with the environmental destruction and social change caused by modern technologies like nuclear reactors. Politicians, scientists, and business leaders all too often revert to a tried and tested set of solutions that fails to grasp the wicked nature of the problem. Eschewing the problem-solving approach that dominates the nuclear energy debate, Anna Volkmar suggests that the only intelligent way to account for the inherent complexity of nuclear technology is not by trying to resolve it but to muddle through it. Through in-depth analyses of contemporary visual art, Volkmar demonstrates how art can suggest ways to muddle through these issues intelligently and ethically. This book is recommended for students and scholars of art history, anthropology, social science, ecocriticism, and philosophy.
Anna Volkmar is independent lecturer of art and technology.
Chapter 1: Ironic Encounters In Nuclear Landscape Photography
Chapter 2: Snapshots from the Zone
Chapter 3: The Art to Remain Exposed
Chapter 4: How to Care for Nuclear Waste?
Volkmar’s close reading of artistic responses to nuclear power convincingly uncovers art’s transformative potential, that is, to force the viewer to see and think differently and thereby create conditions for societal change. In Art and Nuclear Power, Volkmar takes the reader on an essentially hopeful journey where she identifies and articulates the selected artworks’ ethical request to the viewer, to engage and care, not only for past damages or future uncertainties, but – most fundamentally – for the vulnerabilities of the present.
Anna Volkmar’s exceptional close reading of nuclear artworks makes a vital contribution to understanding how contemporary visual art can help to rethink nuclear technical infrastructures in the twenty-first century. Volkmar deals with the ethical complexity of making art within nuclear landscapes and catastrophes at a time when the industry is focused on the role of art for marking geological waste storage. Without being distracted by the romanticism of deep time, Volkmar keeps focused on the matter in hand: muddling through wicked complexity when dealing with ironic encounters, care and experimentation, and the redistribution of power relations.